GREEN BAY (WBAY)- Former Badger defensive lineman Olive Sagapolu was at a Madison restaurant Thursday evening, enjoying some wings, when his phone rang. A call he had been waiting for since going undrafted in April. It was the Packers offering him a contract to join them in training camp.
“I think, kind of it happening, I'm still kind of in the moment, still surreal,” Sagapolu recalled Friday.
That set off a whirlwind 12 hours: try to get some sleep, wake up at 3am, drive to Green Bay, sign a contract, and hit the practice field before even having a chance to look at a playbook. Fortunately, the Packers defense has some similarities to the way the Badgers play. After all, Wisconsin Defensive Coordinator Jim Leonhard played for Packers Defensive Coordinator Mike Pettine in the NFL. “I asked Coach Leonhard what teams in the NFL are kind of similar to our defense,” Sagapolu said Friday. “So he told me different teams, and Green Bay was one of them. It's very similar, the alignments are a little different.”
In four seasons with the Badgers, he played in 44 games with 26 starts and registered 61 tackles (31 solo), 10 tackles for a loss, six sacks, an interception, a pass defensed and a fumble recovery. Sagapolu was part of a senior class that went 42-12 (.778), including a 27-8 (.771) mark in Big Ten play and a 4-0 record in bowl games.
He plans on cramming to learn the playbook as quickly as he can here in Green Bay, and will need to with the pads going on for Saturday’s practice. “My goal for me right now is just learn the playbook. Learn the playbook, get that down, and then learn the different techniques from these guys. When you are learning from these guys over there, I mean it's truly and honor and a blessing to be a part of these guys. Take it a day at a time and just have fun, and learn everything I can so when my number is called I'm ready.”